Annual Exhibition of Microscopy

Saturday 5th October 2019

There will be an extended version of this report in the password-protected Members’ area, with videos of the presentations and links to all of the photos submitted for a Barnard Award.

Public displays | Private displays | Presentations | Eric Marson Awards | Barnard Awards | Video awards | Art awards

This was our sixth exhibition in the Flett Theatre and foyer and the PA135 Meeting Room in the Natural History Museum in London, and it attracted members from France and the Netherlands as well as Museum visitors of all ages. In accordance with tradition, the Club’s President Joan Bingley blew the Quekett horn to attract everyone’s attention and formally open the exhibition.

Joan Bingley opening the ExhibitionJoan Bingley opening the Exhibition

Public displays

Mary Morris, Deborah Bishop and Robert Ratford looked after reception and the Quekett shop just inside the entrance to the foyer of the Flett Theatre.

Robert Ratford and Deborah BishopRobert Ratford and Deborah Bishop

Quekett ShopQuekett Shop

The photographs that had been submitted for a Barnard Award were displayed on the Club’s new stands, and attracted a lot of attention from members and from Museum visitors.

Photo displayPhoto display

Photo displayPhoto display

Artwork by Quekett members was also on display.

Eric Hollowday’s rotifer drawingsEric Hollowday’s rotifer drawings

Robert Ratford brought an ioLight portable microscope to demonstrate. It is no longer restricted to iPads and iPhones, it now works with Android devices too, or with web browsers.

Tony Pattinson and visitors with the ioLight microscopeTony Pattinson (left) and visitors with the ioLight microscope [by Robert Ratford]

Jacky McPherson and Nigel Ashby were demonstrating some fairly simple commercial and home-made micromanipulators on a range of microscopes.

Thibault Gisclard and Jacky McPhersonThibault Gisclard and Jacky McPherson [by Graham Matthews]

Micromanipulator on Zeiss StandardMicromanipulator on a Zeiss Standard

Watson micromanipulatorWatson micromanipulator

Dennis Fullwood’s display attracted lots of visitors of all ages to admire slides from his collection on his Nikon Labophot and Olympus SZ4045 microscopes.

Dennis Fullwood with visitorsDennis Fullwood with visitors

Dennis also used his Chinese inspection camera to show insects in amber on a monitor, and he had some live locusts too.

Insects in amber and live locustsInsects in amber and live locusts

Private displays

Downstairs in the PA135 Meeting Room, members had set up a wide variety of microscopical demonstrations and exhibits.

Exhibits and demonstrations in the PA135 Meeting RoomExhibits and demonstrations in the PA135 Meeting Room [by Graham Matthews]

Dafydd Lewis brought a stand for the Amateur Entomologists’ Society, with sample literature, large live stick insects and a stereomicroscope to examine their eggs. The Quekett will have a stand at the AES Annual Exhibition and Trade Fair at Kempton Park on Saturday 19th October 2019.

Amateur Entomologists’ Society standAmateur Entomologists’ Society stand

Nigel Ashby brought the oldest Watson microscope from his collection, a portable field microscope number 1164, and used it to show the exuviae from which a damselfly had emerged. Nigel also showed some photographs of stages in the development of the damselfly.

Nigel Ashby’s exhibitNigel Ashby’s exhibit

Kit Brownlee with Nigel Ashby’s exhibitKit Brownlee with Nigel Ashby’s exhibit [by Graham Matthews]

Joan Bingley continued the theme of fibres from her 2019 Presidential Address with slides that Colin Lamb had made for her, including cashmere (goat hair), jute and spun dyed Nylon.

Sam Christofi with Joan Bingley’s exhibitSam Christofi with Joan Bingley’s exhibit [by Robert Ratford]

Joan also showed a small bottle with a glass rod in its cap and a liquid of the same refractive index as the rod, to show that the rod is not visible in the liquid.

Glass rod in liquidGlass rod in liquid

Kit Brownlee’s topic was eisenkiesel, a type of quartz that is coloured red, orange or brown by haematite inclusions, and she brought 3 specimens for us to examine using the Club’ Prior stereomicroscope.

Kit Brownlee’s exhibitKit Brownlee’s exhibit

Danny Ferri had not intended to give a demonstration, but one of the Club’s microscopes had a substage condenser with a stiff iris diaphragm. Danny found that the blades were greasy (there should not be any grease or oil on them), so he dismantled the diaphragm and cleaned the brown goo from the iris blades.  Graham Matthews then managed the tricky task of re-assembling the diaphragm.

Danny FerriDanny Ferri [by Graham Matthews]

Dismantled iris diaphragmDismantled iris diaphragm

Les Franchi’s colourful photomicrographs looked as though he had used Rheinberg illumination, but were produced without coloured filters. Instead, Les uses a normal polariser on the light output and a normal analyser below the head, plus a retarder below the condenser and an additional small polariser in the substage filter mount, where a dark-ground stop would go. Rotating the polarisers and the retarder produces a full range of colours from red to violet, and at some settings the specimen and background appear in contrasting colours. So far, this procedure works only with low-power objectives up to ×6.3.

Les Franchi’s exhibitLes Franchi’s exhibit [by Robert Ratford]

Optical train for POL/Rheinberg Variable ContrastOptical train for POL/Rheinberg Variable Contrast

Coloured photomicrographs of fleasColoured photomicrographs of fleas

Phil Greaves’ subject was microbial biofilms, and he used his binocular Wild M11 to show bacteria, yeasts and small ciliated protozoa from a shower cubicle with phase contrast at ×400. Phil provided notes and photographs on biofilms in the home, in factories and in nature.

Phil Greaves’ exhibitPhil Greaves’ exhibit

Pam Hamer showed samples of 3 glassy green rocks, and slides that she had made that we could examine using a stereomicroscope or a Lomo polarising microscope. One was moldavite, purchased from the Didcot Space Store, a tektite from a meteor that impacted in Germany about 15 million years ago. Pam also showed sandstone with extraneous greenish areas from Stac Fada in Scotland; the greenish areas are believed to be from a meteorite strike near Lairg. The third sample was sand from Papakolea Beach in Hawaii which includes green glassy particles of volcanic origin that are probably olivine. The olivine showed a crystalline structure, unlike the material from meteorites.

Willem Cramer and Pam HamerWillem Cramer and Pam Hamer

Pam Hamer’s exhibitPam Hamer’s exhibit [by Graham Matthews]

Pam Hamer’s slides and specimensPam Hamer’s slides and specimens

Grenham Ireland brought some live plankton from Poole Harbour and used a Chinese inspection camera to show them on a monitor. The stands supplied with the inspection cameras are poor, so Grenham has made an adapter to fit the stand of an old Olympus stereomicroscope.

Grenham Ireland and Dafydd LewisGrenham Ireland and Dafydd Lewis

Inspection camera on Olympus stereomicroscope standInspection camera on Olympus stereomicroscope stand

Grenham also showed some of his videos of plankton on the monitor, played from an old Tesco HUDL tablet, one of the few tablets with an HDMI out socket.

Graham Matthews has been taking a break from pond life to examine arthropods in the leaf litter at Warnham Local Nature Reserve, and he showed photographs of the mites and pseudoscorpions that he has found, as well as a simple Tullgren funnel for extracting arthropods.

Graham Matthews’ exhibitGraham Matthews’ exhibit

Stephen Parker brought several slides of pigeon feathers. Slides of whole feathers are not uncommon, but Stephen also had vertical and horizontal sections of wings showing how the feathers are inserted. Stephen used a Leitz SM polarising microscope with a first order red plate to bring out the muscle structure in the wing sections. Stephen also used a trinocular Wild microscope with a camera in the vertical tube attached to a tablet.

Stephen Parker’s exhibitStephen Parker’s exhibit

Slides of pigeon feathersSlides of pigeon feathers

Mark Shephard brought several slides of spicules, anchors and plates from his collection, some Victorian and some more recent. These microscopic ossicles are found in sponges, soft corals and echinoderms and their functions are thought to include defence, movement and support.

Mark Shephard’s exhibitMark Shephard’s exhibit

Mark Shephard’s slidesMark Shephard’s slides

Gwyneth Thurgood used the Club’s Swift polarising microscope to show several slides of crystals, and displayed decorative patterns that she had drawn from them.

Gwyneth Thurgood’s exhibitGwyneth Thurgood’s exhibit

Fleur White brought a variety of specimens suitable for observing under a stereomicroscope.

Fleur White’s exhibitFleur White’s exhibit

Alan Wood was demonstrating how easy it is to take photomicrographs with a digital SLR camera tethered to a computer, using his Canon EOS 5D Mark II controlled by EOS Utility software and an NBS slide of bracken rhizome.

Alan Wood’s exhibitAlan Wood’s exhibit

Alan showed 3 ways of attaching a camera to a microscope, an Olympus camera adapter with a photo eyepiece, an unbranded adapter with a normal eyepiece, and a Leitz Periplan eyepiece attached to a standard lens for afocal coupling.

Section of bracken rhizomeSection of bracken rhizome, from an NBS slide


Charles Hussey recorded the two presentations in the Flett Theatre, and they will be available in the password-protected area of the Quekett website.

Zaineb Henderson spoke on “Micromotion in Action”, explaining how cells and microorganisms move using cilia, flagella, pseudopodia and other mechanisms, illustrated with photomicrographs and videos of cilia, pseudopodia and gliding diatoms.

Zaineb Henderson’s presentationZaineb Henderson’s presentation

Jeremy Poole is one of the few Quekett members with their own scanning electron microscopes, and he explained how they work and how he has gradually extended the abilities of his own equipment. Jeremy also explained how he prepares and mounts specimens and how he adds colour to the images.

Jeremy Poole’s presentationJeremy Poole’s presentation

Eric Marson Awards

Graham Matthews was the judge this year, and had prepared photographs and photomicrographs of the slides for a rolling display at the exhibition. Graham also wanted to submit some slides, so Pam Hamer judged them.

Slides by John RhodesSlides by John Rhodes

Slides by Lewis WoolnoughSlides by Lewis Woolnough

Slides by Mike SmithSlides by Mike Smith

Slides by Pam HamerSlides by Pam Hamer

Barnard Awards for photomicrographs

Mike Gibson organised the photograph display again this year, and arranged for the best ones to be printed and mounted so that they could be displayed in the foyer of the Flett Theatre on the Club’s new stands. Mike also prepared a rolling Powerpoint presentation of all of the submissions, and this was shown on a large wall-mounted monitor.

Photo displayPhoto display

The prints were made by SwiftprintUK, the same firm that we have used for several years.

The judge this year was Alan Edwards LRPS, who has had an interest in photography for more than 40 years. Alan judged the photos before the event, and his comments on the ones that he chose to receive a Barnard Award were displayed with the photographs.

Certificates were awarded to Chris Carter (Nitella capillaris male plant), David Linstead (Can-Can Dancing Ladies), Mike Gibson (Bindweed), Pam Hamer (Rock Crystals), Sandra Pearce (Botanical Crystals) and Tom Harnish (Fly’s Wing Blueprint).

As we have come to expect, the subjects included a wide range of animal, vegetable and mineral specimens:

Fly’s Wing Blueprint by Tom HarnishFly’s Wing Blueprint (by Tom Harnish)
Alan Edwards: The author had great vision to bring together the fly wing and the aircraft design. The blue print colouration and layout is inspired. Technically, the image detail is excellent.

Nitella capillaris male plant in dark-ground by Chris CarterNitella capillaris male plant in dark-ground (by Chris Carter)
Alan Edwards: This image is my top choice. The composition has a dynamic diagonal component. The green branches form leading lines to draw the eye from every side towards the glowing cells. The exposure is perfectly judged to bring out every detail.

Rock Crystals by Pam HamerRock Crystals (by Pam Hamer)
Alan Edwards: A modest magnification has resulted in a great sense of place where the crystals are found. The image has a natural feel and the transparency of the crystals has been very well rendered.

Video of all entries for the 2019 Barnard Awards
Click the arrow to start the video; click the symbol to the left of “vimeo” for a larger version

Barnard Awards for videos

The videos submitted for Barnard Awards and shown at the exhibition were by Alan Jones, Rachel Sammon (mosquito larva, rotifer), Willem Cramer (Eggs and nymphs of Palomena prasina, Euglena cf. mutabilis, Oligochaeta) and Sinclair Stammers.

Click the arrow to start the video; click the symbol to the left of “vimeo” for a larger version

Art awards

“Afloat” – Joan Bingley’s artwork“Afloat” – Joan Bingley’s artwork

Gwyneth Thurgood’s artworkGwyneth Thurgood’s artwork

Euchlanis dilatata by Eric HollowdayEuchlanis dilatata by Eric Hollowday

Trichocerca rattus by Eric HollowdayTrichocerca rattus by Eric Hollowday

Monster Soup 2019, by Irma Irsara
Click the arrow to start the video; click the symbol to the left of “vimeo” for a larger version

Chris Thomas’s artworkChris Thomas’s artwork


Our grateful thanks to:

  • Joan Bingley for undertaking the exhausting task of organising the exhibition;
  • our team of volunteers who arrived early on Saturday morning to set up tables, extension leads and microscopes in the PA135 Meeting Room and displays of photographs and artwork in the foyer of the Flett Theatre, so that everything was ready in time for the 10:30 a.m. start;
  • the exhibitors without whom there would be no exhibition;
  • Alan Edwards, Graham Matthews, Sinclair Stammers and ??? for judging the entries
  • Mike Gibson for organising the photograph display;
  • the NHM security staff for their help.

Report and most photographs by Alan Wood

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